7 of the Hottest Bathroom Trends To Avoid or Embrace?

Dear Laurel,

I’d love it if you could do a post about bathrooms; well, specifically some of the bathroom trends I’m seeing. We’re going to be redoing two bathrooms in our home. One is the master bath, and the other is a smaller guest bathroom downstairs.


However, I’m confused about many of the bathroom trends I see today.


Here’s a list, if that’s helpful for you.

  • Do we need to have a bathtub in the master bathroom? And, if so, free-standing or built-in?
  • Bathroom Tile – There is sooooooo much out there. Subway tile? Travertine? Marble?
  • Bathroom Floors – Same thing. But, should it be ceramic, stone, vinyl, encaustic cement. Or, I’ve even seen some cool bathrooms with wood floors. Or, at least it looks like wood.
  • Showers – Ugh. Should it be a separate stall? Ack. I hate that word. What about a shower without an enclosure? Is that a good idea? Doesn’t the water go all over the room? I’ll never forget the post with the opposite. The glass coffin shower. lol


Then, the big question in bathroom trends is to brass or not to brass?


I remember your bathroom brass post, too. The upshot when you wrote that post in October 2017 was that unlacquered brass is classic. Do you still feel that way three years later?


  • What about exposed pipes? I have to say that I love that look. But, is it a trend that’s going to hold up? Are the exposed pipes of 2020 going to be the pink/gray/shiny brass of 1984?
  • Oh, and how do you feel about a separate bidet? Or will I end up using it to wash out my underwear and pantyhose? I have to say I have a friend who got one of those bidet seats and was making a fortune selling their un-needed toilet paper in their front yard last March. lol


I’m kidding; well, about the TP sales in their front yard.


But, not about how happy they were last March when the paper products aisles were EMPTY.


  • And, finally, my last question is about the shower, if it’s part of either a free-standing tub or separate. Do you prefer a longer shower curtain? And, if so, how long? Where should the curtain be hung, and how? Or, should there be a door? Is the frameless glass still relevant? What about the black iron doors? I love that look, too. I just don’t know if that’s the right look for our home in suburban Philadelphia.

Thank you so much,

Bathea Curtain




This is not a real Dear Laurel letter. But, Bathea is a real name although pretty rare.

Anyway. This is quite a lot for one blog post. But, when did that stop me? I mean, any one of these, could be its own blog post. And, of course, there are many more elements such as bathroom lighting, mirrors, hardware, window treatments, toilets, sinks, vanities…

Oh, and bathroom paint colors!


So, this is going to be an overview of these seven current bathroom trends.


One general rule to help weed out some of the choices is this:

I feel that the bathroom should be an extension of the rest of the home.

In other words, if you have a house in the suburbs filled with minivans, 2.3 children, and 1.2 dogs, then you are probably not going to veer far off the beam from what is expected.

That is, unless you’re planning on being in the home for the next 50 years and want to have what you want to have.

I’m not saying that everything has to be totally predictable. But, it’s important to figure this out.

I guess all of that is logical. However, when faced with a huge amount of choices, it can be overwhelming to whittle things down.

Whenever renovating, one thing I recommend is collecting inspiration photos and putting them on a Pinterest board. This is a great way to discover your style and what floats your bathtub.


So, let’s jump in here and tackle each of these bathroom design trends.


I’m going to begin with bathtubs and showers and combine them since they are connected.


Should you have a bathtub in the master bathroom?


Ideally, yes. But, if you don’t want a tub and I had a client who didn’t. There should be one in another bathroom.

If you only have one bathroom in your home, (like me!), then I would strongly encourage you to put in a tub.

What kind of tub?

What kind of shower?

Well, that depends on a few factors, including budget.

Naturally, a big consideration is the size of the bathroom. If you have a tiny bathroom, like mine is, then they absolutely have to be together. That’s obvious.


If you have the space, should you have a free-standing tub?


Frankly, this is only my personal preference, but the only free-standing tubs I like are the old-fashioned clawfoot tubs.

However, I still prefer them to be close to the wall. And, with a tall shower curtain.

We’ll get to shower curtains in sec.

However, if I were putting together a medium-sized bathroom, I would still most likely put them together. But, that’s just me.


BATH_NapaTowels_Serena and Lily - bathroom trends

Oh man, isn’t this bathroom beautiful?

It’s also pure fantasy.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore this lovely vignette from Serena and Lily. But, who lives like this? There would be water all over the place and there’s no mirror. And, no storage for their stuff, either.

This bathroom is just for show.

Speaking of stuff. Did you see my bathroom vanity organization post?

Remember my pipe was busted? Well, miraculously, my super did fix it a few days later. However, I have an update which you can read about on that post.


Laurel, why not a free-standing tub?


Good question.

They are a tripping hazard.
The modern ones look like boats to me.
They use a tremendous amount of water.

And, there’s no place to put your stuff, so you have to have a caddy. That’s just one more thing to trip over, hanging out in the middle of the room.

I think that the contemporary free-standing bathtubs are going to look dated before too long.

Remember this post that talked about free-standing tubs, boat tubs and coffin tubs? Yeah… No coffin tubs, please! Seriously, who designs a tub in the shape of a coffin? Of course, you are free to put a coffin in your home, if that pleases you. I’m not judging. (too much)


What about exposed bathroom pipes?


Yes, they are one of the hottest bathroom trends.


Here, we can see some exposed brass pipes in the bath/shower in this rustic urban bathroom of John Derian.


See? I just found this alternative image. I knew there is supposed to be a mirror over the sink!


Michelle R Smith Interiors - vintage bathroom exposed pipes - elegant showe - vintage bathroom exposed pipes - elegant shower curtain - subway tile

Michelle R Smith Interiors

Here are more exposed pipes in an elegant bathtub/shower. Please check out this beautiful portfolio in the link above, as well. There are so many talented young designers!

The upshot is; if you have an antique, vintage, urban home, or a funky farmhouse that’s in the country on a farm; then yes, I think a little exposed pipe is pretty cool and appropriate.


Will exposed pipes look dated?


Welllllll… Some of it is a little much unless you’re in Europe and in a very old funky home. Think Mimi Thorisson.

However, here’s a whole page of exterior plumbing ideas on Pinterest.

This type of plumbing will look dated if the home is clearly not old, and it’s in a more vanilla-type community. Sorry to use that word which has become somewhat of a perjorative. I wish it wasn’t. And, I happen to love vanilla! To me, vanilla means something mainstream. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, resale is super important for most of us who are property owners. And, if you think you might want to sell in about ten years or less and your community is on the conservative side, I would probably not do exposed pipes.


What about brass fixtures?


That’s pretty much the same situation as the exposed pipes. However, please review this post about brass in today’s bathrooms.

We’re making a lot of progress with our bathroom trends!


Showers, shower curtains, and shower enclosures are next on the list.


Okay. Showers with no enclosure and no step up or down are contemporary. I think they look cool in photos. But, again, they need a good amount of space and the right kind of home.


Kaemingk Design Coast House Shower

Kaemingk Design Coast House Shower

You know, I had used this image before, but didn’t know where it was from. Well, I accidentally found it today. This is a very cool design firm. Their aesthetic is classic contemporary with a little old-world and vintage styling. I quite love it. So, please check them out.


Should you have a glass or glass and iron enclosure or a shower curtain?


You can always do a shower curtain. And, of course, it’s the least expensive way. I’ve seen totally open showers and I do understand the aesthetic. I just don’t know if they’re always comfortable or practical. Does anyone have one?


Best neutral color scheme - white walls - Steve Cordony -

Steve Cordony’s exquisite bathroom is a wonderful example of some of these bathroom trends done perfectly and in the right home and setting.

If you missed this post hi-lighting his incredible Rosedale Farm, please check it out, now.


As far as shower enclosures go, the plain, frameless glass partitions are very expensive. They are thousands of dollars to have made and installed. Contractors are always bitching how difficult they are, to install. But, they do look wonderful.

I do not like shower enclosures that go up the ceiling. Of course, there’s a fan, but the idea creeps me out, in any case. Plus, it just seems like it would be a huge petrie dish and a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.


86 Pondfield Rd west - stunning marble pale gray and black bathroom

86 Pondfield Rd west, Bronxville – stunning marble pale gray and black bathroom, close to me!


The iron and glass doors are definitely a trend. I think they look great in more contemporary homes, urban bathrooms, European style bathrooms. Or, even a rustic bathroom.

If you could do a glass and iron partition in your entry, kitchen, or living room, then you can have one in your bathroom, as well.

However, your windows need to coordinate.


Shower curtains


kaemingkdesign - Zellige tile - long shower curtain - bathroom trends

This is also from Kaemingk design, but again, it wasn’t easy to find the source. This is a very cool looking shower with zellige tile.

Remember my client who used it in her kitchen?

And, we also saw zellige tiles in this post.

From an artistic standpoint, the overly long shower curtain makes for a beautiful composition. However, real life needs to intervene. Over time, that damp curtain hanging on the floor is going to get mighty grody.

Shower curtains should always be off the floor at least an inch or two.



Same sitch here with the fringe.


It’s funny, but Sunday’s post inspired this post. That’s because there was a comment about extra-long shower curtains which bring the eye upward in a smaller bathroom or one with a lower ceiling. Or, even a bathroom with a higher ceiling. However, I didn’t just want to do shower curtains.


But, here’s the problem.


mariloubiz on instagram shower curtain

The standard shower curtain is 72″ x 72″.  The curtain above looks great, but with the high ceiling, I think a taller curtain would be better. It used to be if you wanted a longer shower curtain, you’d have to have it custom-made or make it yourself.



jll home store


However, many sources are now manufacturing longer lengths, or custom widths and lengths. Still, consider that a shower curtain IS a curtain. For instance, if you have a shower stall, like above, you could just use a ready-made curtain and install a small curtain rod.


@honeyandfitz on instagram - shower curtain hung from ceiling

@honeyandfitz on instagram – lovely new-trad bathroom with a shower curtain hung from ceiling.


Photography by Jeremy Bittermann - via Architectural Digest - Design Jessica Helgerson

Photography by Jeremy Bittermann – via Architectural Digest – Design Jessica Helgerson


At first glance, we might think there isn’t a shower curtain. However, there’s a rod, so it appears that it’s out of the shot. I do adore this bathroom!


Below are two terrific sources for custom shower curtains.


BBB – Bed Bath & Beyond. Huge selection.

Superior Custom Linens – A new and super terrific source! They have gorgeous shower curtains, regular curtains, bed linens of all kinds, table cloths and more.


Next is the bathroom floor.


We did talk about bathroom floors quite a bit in this post.


However, when looking at bathroom floors, it’s important to consider the tile and countertop material.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to surface materials in the bathroom, I’m all for sticking with the classic materials.


I will always love classic white subway tile for the walls. It could be porcelain or marble. I love white.


Kaemingk Design Emerson House Shower

Kaemingk Design Emerson House Shower

You can’t go wrong with small hexagonal tiles for a bathroom floor.

But, marble is also lovely.


Charleston Greek Rev_Gil Schafer marble floor bathroom trends

One of my favorite bathrooms – ever by architect, Gil Schafer.


willows-rest-UK - bathroom encaustic cement floor - bathroom trends

Willows Rest-UK


And in some situations, I love the encaustic cement floors. Or else a floor that looks like encaustic cement.  How gorgeous is that bathroom above in an English inn!

Some say that encaustic cement is slippery. But, at least one manufacturer says it’s not. I would research that one carefully. And, also talk with the manufacturer. Perhaps they have a special non-slip coating on their tile. It seems like that would be a good idea, if possible.


What about wood for a bathroom floor?


Sure. I had a client who had an 18th-century home in Waccabuc, and she put a wood floor in her master bath, and it was wonderful.


Elm Street Inn - Northampton, MA - heart pine floors 18th c. airbnb - photo LBI

The Elm Street Inn in Northampton, MA. Photo by me


In addition, this AirBnb has wood floors in all of their bathrooms.

I didn’t take a pic of the bathrooms, but the antique heart pine is what’s in there.

Of course, I would use a super strong poly. Again, that is something to research carefully.


As for a separate bidet, in the bathroom.


I dunno. Certainly, if you have the space and the money, there is nothing wrong with them and some people can’t live without one in each bathroom.

However, have you seen the new bidet toilet seats? These are seats that do the job of a bidet, but you don’t need a separate piece.

I’ve heard some wonderful things about these bidet toilet seats.


Here’s a whole mess of bidet seats or washlets, they are sometimes called.


Did I really just say “mess of bidet seats?” lol


There are many models to choose from at a wide variety of prices.


However, I think it’s important to get one with a remote and one that heats up the water quickly. How do they work? I don’t know.

Obviously, (or maybe not obviously) you are not using the same water you just did your business in to clean up with.

However, I KNOW that at least one of you has one of these seats. So, if you do, please speak up and let us know how you like yours. And, also if there are some things to consider that only someone with experience can share.


Phew! That was a lot, but, let’s recap.


For most of you, when you redo a bathroom, the current bathroom trends may or may not work for you based on your home, style and where the home is located.

This is where careful planning comes in.

If in doubt, I would consult with an interior designer in your area. You could also consult with a realtor if your thinking of moving soon and are planning any kind of renovations.

Here’s what can happen when you don’t plan and don’t have a clue what you’re doing.


The elements in your bathrooms should make sense with what is going on in the rest of your home.


But, here’s the most disturbing trend I very much hope disappears.

Please also check out curtain and drapery hardware, what you need to know.


bathroom trends - stay or go?please pin to your Pinterest boards for reference


I hope that something I said here, helped to make the design process a little easier when trying to figure out if the current bathroom trends are for you, or not.




PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!


68 Responses

  1. Not a fan of the exposed bathroom fixture but in love with the look and feel of it and the glass enclosure will definitely be the top pick. And I have to agree with you about the freestanding tub though it looks good the entire bathroom design is not for everyone.

  2. Hi Donna – We put zellige tile in a kitchen about 9 months ago. Weathered White by Cle Tile – I am obsessed. It’s been very easy to keep clean. Typically I wipe it with a paper towel and either Dawn dish soap or Young Living Thieves cleaner. No problems with snagging, I was concerned too!. There are small rough spots here and there. Some are from the shape of the tile, some from the edges of the glaze. But the glaze is very smooth over the rough tile. A sponge or rag should be no problem. We paired it with white gloss euro style cabinets, to me the juxtaposition is perfection!

  3. I used 511 penetrating sealer for my kitchen marble counters, which were installed 10 years ago (I reseal them every year). My contractor used DryTreat for the bathroom floors and counters, which were installed 2.5 years ago.
    DryTreat is supposed to last 10 years plus before you have to reseal it, but both perform well. By the way, it’s recommended that you use the same product when you reseal. I also use MB Marble cleaner for everyday cleaning and you can use 3% Hydrogen Peroxide for disinfecting. It won’t hurt the marble.

  4. I have used the Toto washlets for twenty years now. We had a bidet in our master bathroom when we lived in New York and loved it. Once we moved South, our new home did not have the space to accommodate a bidet. so we purchased a Toto washlet and eventually installed three in our home. They are fantastic for hygiene especially for the elderly so we purchased two more washlets for our parents. They have a wand that needs to be cleaned but it’s fairly easy to do. Highly recommend!

  5. Hi Laurel,
    I may not have a Toto toilet in my home but I do love the one I have. It has a covered base which creates a smooth surface, eliminating curves and crevices for quick, easy cleaning. I’ll never get a regular toilet again.

  6. Oh the mistakes I’ve made trying to accommodate everyone in the house (hubs+3 kids). Note to self, avoid next time (hahahaha): higher faucets that look regal but create more splash; shower heads that are larger and need more water (maybe issue is smaller pipes?); inaccessible shower faucets you can’t turn on with soaking yourself (solution: door that swings both ways!); small tile with lighter grout (darker grout?); not writing down the last minute color of grout tile guy strongly recommended who also won’t return calls (to do touch ups). Also, not having a designer help design 3 baths at the same time (brain overload here). BUT I love my Toto washlet. Don’t love the highly touted Toto toilets. Have the same one in 3 bathrooms, – one has been a lemon, constant issues. Cheap parts? Wasn’t I told not to get the Kohler or Amer Standard for this reason? I also love the upper cabinets in master. Was told not to do by several. Not quite seniors yet but hubs, who is very tall, and me, who is not, don’t like reaching into lower drawers etc however gorgeous the bathrooms without upper cabs. Love these bathrooms and the helpful comments!

  7. One thing I’d love to have is a walk-in tub. You open a door in the side and there’s a seat you sit on. Easy to get in and easy to get out, and they look so comfortable!

  8. We redid the master bath last year. My husband has had PD for 20 years and was having back issues not related to PD. So out went the huge jetted tub we did not use. We have a shower open on 1 side and part way on the joining wall. No curb – you can wheel a wheel chair in. Water hasn’t been an issue. The cabinet people worked with me on the vanity and we have one a wheel chair can roll under- the pipes are hidden with a panel that matches the vanity. Love the bathroom.

  9. AMEN TO TOTO… my husband asked what would help me in our home in case I lived here alone. My answer was a bidet. I have the Toto washlet with remote and love it every day.
    NOW on to remodeling 20 year old bath with ginormous
    unusable tub and yucky shower. Using AIP (aging in place) options of drop in tub and zero entry shower. I read that a wall mount vanity could accommodate a wheelchair but am not sure about that. Laurel, more about AIP would be helpful. Thanks for all your insight with a few smiles.

  10. I was going to go w/ Cle Zellige tiles in my master bath reno and my understanding is that they are applied vey close together so that there’s a lot less grout between them. I love them but after the samples arrived I realized hey were a warm white and not what I wanted.

  11. I renovated my master bath last year. My focus was on an aging in place bathroom that’s so pretty you can’t tell it’s ADA compliant. It’s a “wet room” w/carrera marble penny tiles on the floor and up to the ceiling in the shower and along the whole back wall. I removed the garden tub that I never used and now have a large curbless shower (also have a guest bath w/ a tub/shower combo). Installed custom silver open weave sheers that hang on each side of the shower that are hung about an inch below the ceiling. There’s a floating slab carrera marble double sink vanity w/ a floor the ceiling framed mirror behind. Also a white and chrome folding shower seat from WetStyle in Canada. And added a taller Toto toilet. I’ve had toilet seat bidets for several years, however in my master I opted for a hand-held bidet sprayer. I don’t ever want to be w/out a bidet. I had a bidet that was both hot+cold water in my previous home, but I found – especially in the winter- that I’d usually finished my “business” by the time the warm water kicked in. So I don’t have that feature anymore and don’t miss it. I tried out a Toto w/ all the bells and whistles and remote but they weren’t important to me. I prefer to keep it simple w/ bidets that work w/out relying on electricity-less prone to problems. Installed chrome toggle switches and rotary dimmer controls w/ engraved switch plates that describe what each is (in case I get Alzheimers-I’ll know which one turns on the lights or the fan!). Added a wall-mounted lighted vanity mirror (magnified) too. Love my bathroom!

  12. Hi Laurel,

    Amazing that you’ve never had this problem! The vile wrapping shower curtain is a common things here. Australia is one of the driest places in the world. That means higher levels of static electricity. So maybe Australia really is the problem!

    Shower curtains here a single layer, usually polyester or plastic. Either will have the nastiness of temperament to wrap an unsuspecting showerer. I’ve never heard of a double curtain with a plastic lining that stays in the tub! What a fabulous idea! Perhaps it is just a different cultural construact.

    I’m so happy you replied, you have inspired me. I’m going to source some plain plastic shower curtains to make exactly what you describe! Less laundering, no more household arguments about where the curtain hangs; him – inside tub drier floor but moulds quicker more laundry for me, vs me outside to enjoy the full visual splendour.

    Face it Laurel, you are a GENIUS! A DECORATING GURU. Thank you so much for solving this dilemma.

  13. Where was this post six months ago? 🙂 We just remodeled our 1984-era bathroom, and I’m glad to learn I made a lot of right decisions even before I read this post. White tile, hints of marble, black accents, tub and shower with door that doesn’t go to the ceiling. Whew! And it’s not a diamond ring or a Mediterranean cruise, by my hubby gave me a Toto washlet. Yes, I wanted it, and yes, I love it.
    Thanks for your great blog. Could you please do one about how to lighten up a traditional living room? My upholstery needs a facelift, but it doesn’t all get to be done at once…I need one of those plans you’re always talking about!

  14. I used a Toto combination toilet seat/bidet that did everything but cook you dinner in a hotel I stayed at in Asia. Seriously, it had heat, blow dry, directional, and water pressure options. It was the most amazing toilet I ever used, and “everything” was squeaky clean when it was done with you. If I end up buying one for my home, it will be an exception from any agreement of sale, when I sell my home!

  15. One important detail I haven’t seen addressed is the positioning of the shower faucet. The lovely bathroom pictured at 86 Pondfield Rd West, Bronxville seems to have the faucet behind the half glass panel requiring the user to step into the shower to turn on the water (at least if you’re short like me. Then you’re treated to cold water until it heats up. My walk-in shower has the faucet positioned by the shower entry so you avoid that uncomfortable experience.

  16. Love your blog! I learn so much every week. When we renovated our master bath we installed a open entry shower. I LOVE it!! No doors to clean & no wet shower curtain to deal with! In the winter I do have to use a little more hot water because it gets drafty being so large (5×5 ft) but otherwise it is great.

  17. I’m one of those people who likes to take a bath, then wash my hair immediately afterward, so a shower/bath combo is perfect for me.

    The brass in John Derian’s bathroom is beautiful, but OMG, he needs to clean his bathroom. Everything looks so grungy! (Sorry, John.)

    When my parents bought their house, many decades ago, all of the tubs were made of cast iron, and then made white on the outside with whatever substance was used to cover the cast iron. As a child I thought they were sort of funky looking, but they really retained the heat which made for a lovely warm bath. I’ve no idea what tubs today are made of.

    I’ve fallen in love with zellige tiles. I think they are just gorgeous, but I would love to hear an answer to Donna’s question about how to clean between them.

  18. Speaking of bathtubs, when we remodeled a ‘70s master bath in the Sunbelt, we knocked out a neighboring bedroom wall and opted for a micro silk tub made by Jason (former Jacuzzi owners). We have found it does a wonderfully super-clean and relaxing job. My 6’4” husband is a bath man, and we ordered a bathtub to fit him comfortably, hence the expanded space. The tub is built in. We kept the ceiling fan nearby, in the center of the new bathroom; a friend suggested this was nice to help dissipate humidity, plus it is just refreshing for occasional baths in the hot afternoon. We also opted for a Brondell bidet toilet seat in the separate potty room and love it.Couldn’t be more pleased with our update!

  19. Another fabulous post Laurel! I installed cheap $20 under the seat bidets in all of our bathrooms. I honestly don’t know how we lived without them before. They are cold water only using the line that runs to the tank and it doesn’t bother me, but you can also buy ones that connect to your hot water line under the sink. In our basement bathtub I bought these waterproof linen look grommet style curtains to use instead of a shower curtain. It comes in more length options than regular shower curtains as well. I have them on either side framing the shower/tub combo going all the way to the ceiling like you would hang regular curtains. I think I got that idea from a photo in another one of your bathroom posts 😊

  20. I learned that bathroom design is not universal during trips to Europe. In France, the toilet is often in a separate room, all by itself, while the sink is in another room with the shower/bathtub. It took a while to figure that out. In other countries’ Air BnB’s we found many open showers, that is a shower head in the corner of the bathroom with a surrounding curtain and drain. I hated this as the entire bathroom would be flooded after 3 people quickly showered. Even an 1″ rim enclosing the area would have helped. I’m sure “open” is easier to clean but I really hated wet socks all day.

    My sister has an open shower plan with tile barriers to keep the water enclosed…it is horrible because the tile chills the entire area and it never gets warm, which is a deficit in Minnesota. Finally, any open tub, claw foot or otherwise, is a total pain to clean around. They look great the first few months but I’ll bet in two years the backside will be looking pretty grody.

    Thank you so much for this great post!

  21. Mary, that is what I was waiting to hear, a real person’s experience with it. Thank you. I used them in Europe, too, and thought they were so smart. The added bonus is that with the combo shower/tub is you get rid of another pet peeve: if you have ever had full sliding glass doors, the tracks aren’t very nice when you soak in the tub. These don’t have tracks. One more of a thousand decisions made!

  22. Sheila, we had a glass half door installed on one of tubs a year ago and love it. It swings out, so it’s easy to get and out of the shower or after a bath. We’ve experienced them in Europe and decided that’s what we wanted. We had it installed by a local glass company, and since they’d never seen anything like it, the owner did the measuring and installation. He was impressed. Now I’m going to have another one installed in the master bath. Go for it.

  23. Arlene, what brand did you buy? I haven’t seen one with instant heat and what a long time it takes for hot water to get upstairs at my house!
    When we added on a few (oh my goodness, it’s been 20) years ago, my biggest desires for the bathroom included a freestanding claw foot tub with a big window to look out at the meadow while I soak; a sink nearby and the toilet in a separate room – the shower ended up there too. I ‘m still happy with all of it!

  24. We have a bidet seat on our master bedroom toilet. Very handy for my husband who had surgery. ‘Nuf said….
    However if you are considering one, note you will need a GFI electrical outlet near the toilet.
    Also, Laurel, you did not address aging in place. I recommend a separate walk in shower with a bench either built in or not. Stepping over a tub ledge can be difficult for bad knees, hips, etc.. When we remodeled our bathroom I also had them install decorator grab bars that matched our hardware. I didn’t go full bore ADA design, but just enough to have something to hold onto and still look attractive.
    A squeegee is the key to keeping glass doors looking good with minimal effort.

  25. Thanks, Monica, that is reassuring. I would rather go with the real thing, always. I’ve almost decided to forgo the lovely Callacuta Gold for my kitchen (off-subject, I know) in favor of quartzite but I hear things like this and maybe I need to think more.

  26. Laurel and Maxine, maybe it depends on the fabric of the curtain liner, or how close it is to the tub, but believe me, Laurel, a cold, wet, plastic hug us unpleasant. I’ve even considered one of those curtain rods that curve out. That is why I am curious if anyone has experience with the glass half-doors that they have in Europe?

  27. My husband and I like the washlet. It has not affected our water bill and we like the tp conservation. Those more sensitive or with medical issues will appreciate the warm wash, adjustable water pressure and dryer. However, the dryer takes forever and I don’t have that kind of time. The self cleaning wand, deodorizing fan and feminine wash are appreciated. I do agree that it can be inconvenient to clean, but worth it. Another reader mentioned the sprayer hitting the ceiling. Ours is pressure activated and won’t provide service without a customer. It stops when pressure is removed. I won’t be leaving it to the people buying our house.

  28. Although I don’t have one in my home, I would highly recommend the combination bidet toilet seats. I spent some time in Japan last year, and they were everywhere. As far as things to consider, I would simply explore the options. There are heated seats, water pressure and placement adjustments, some have fans, etc.

    Speaking of Japan, multiple hotels we visited had the shower and bath in a separate room that was sealed. There was no curtain or anything. The walls and inside of the door could all have water sprayed on them. The shower head was outside of the tub and had a heated mirror close by. It meant that your tub and shower were not really a part of the bathroom aesthetic, but it was very nice experience wise. If my husband and I ever build, we’ll consider that option.

  29. Hi Laurel, Our master bath is a “wet room”. The shower doesn’t have a curtain or door. Marc isn’t a sloppy “showerer” so it works well for us. It was the only way to fit my tub and a shower in our not large bathroom. XO

  30. Val, I am no expert, but I also want to copy the moldings in the S&L photo. All you need is a good contractor to whom you can show the picture – they can replicate it from there. I’ve done it successfully in the past. This is what I plan to do in my master bath remodel that I am about to start.

  31. Hi Laurel – another great post and so timely as I am working on a master bath. Could not agree more that classic is the way to go. I am a big fan of clawfoot tubs and separate shower / glass enclosure – mine has to go to the ceiling for steam shower which is already there. It’s not bad looking. I would love to do wood floors but don’t think they are practical …would you ever consider the wood look tile (my guess is no, but just asking). I love the look of the bath by Steve Cordony!

  32. Hi Laurel, great post as always.

    Yet I must disagree with you, Sandra and Betty about shower curtain length. A shower curtain must have something to stick to when the shower is going. While a couple of cms above the floor looks good it has a serious practical flaw.

    Have you ever noticed the curtain moves by itself when you turn the shower taps on? Turning on the shower alters the air pressure in the enclosed space. This means it sucks it towards the water flow – where you are standing. Then it wraps itself around you. Loathsome. I agree with Sheila, just vile to experience. Not a good start to the day.

    So a lip of some sort, a bathtub or a puddle of curtain on the floor are all ways to mitigate the nastiness of a sticking shower curtain. I’ve had houses with them all, they all work. With modern laundries it is no problem to keep clean. It just means it goes in the wash with the other bathroom items.

    As I have absolutely appalling taste I have a wardrobe of lurid shower curtains. My current favourites are the Hokusai ‘Great Wave at Kanagawa’ and a Heakel drawing of brightly coloured coral.

    My late Mother (who had excellent taste) would sigh and roll her eyes. ‘So common’ she’d sigh!

    1. Hi Maxine,

      I see from your email address that you’re in Australia. Maybe that’s the problem? I’m joking, of course, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have never had a shower curtain wrap itself around me. It has a separate plastic liner which is inside the tub and sticks to it mostly because of the moisture. The curtain is outside the tub, nice and dry and stays put.

  33. Use a good penetrating sealer for your marble tiles and you won’t have any problems with staining. For floors you should use honed tiles and they won’t show etch marks neither.
    I’ve marble counters, wall and floor tiles and I find them easy to care for.

  34. My mother grew up in a 1920’s house that had a free-standing tub (common in those days). She and her siblings were given the chore of cleaning it, the space under it, and the space around it. When she grew up and bought a house with a built-in tub, she was elated because the built-in tub was easier to clean. It’s funny that now we do so many things that make housekeeping more time consuming: free standing tubs, glass enclosures, open shelves in the kitchen, exposed pipes in the bathroom. These things are attractive, but since I am my own housekeeper I prefer to go with whatever is easiest to keep clean.

  35. Wow great post. I would caution on puddling shower curtains. there is a possibility of mildew if they don’t dry after each use.
    Also open plan toilet room- Gross! What happens if you have the flue?

  36. OT, but every time I see a photo of curtains puddled on the floor, my first thought is … Oh wow, wouldn’t the cats love that!

  37. Thank you for some great commentary. So good to have the benefit of knowledge and expertise of someone immersed in the business!

  38. Love your commentary, as usual! I’d like to add that I’ve installed “grab bars” made of beautiful chrome to match my fixtures when I renovated my master bath – one horizontally, about a foot up from the tub’s top edge, and one vertically next to the side I exit. It’s come in handy many times. I decided I needed one after exiting a hotel tub/shower without my contacts in, foot caught the tub edge whilst exiting and I tumbled out of the tub/shower and had a nasty fall, grabbing onto the shower curtain and taking it and the pole out – YIKES – so embarrassing! I was in my 40’s when that happened!!! Besides the damage to the room, was my bruised body and my ego!

  39. Hayley,
    As you’ll see in Laurel’s other bathroom posts, subway tile is one of the most classic and timeless options. Whether you go with white, faux marble or real marble will depend on the style of the rest of your home, as Laurel says at the beginning of the post. Also read some of the comments here and the photos for bathroom flooring. 12 X 24 tiles on the floor may not be safe — too slippery. Most of the floors here have penny or small hexagonal tile. Spend some time going through the links to Laurel’s other posts and I think you’ll find your answers. Good luck!

  40. So many wonderful ideas here for me – I am remodeling three bathrooms in a country house and this helps so much. I have a few questions I would like to put out to you, Laurel, or the collective knowledge of your smart followers: I had marble picked out for one of the bath surrounds and floors (hex), along with white subway in the shower but we often let others use the house and to be honest, my hubby isn’t the most careful either and I worry about etching (from urine) around the toilet. Isn’t this a problem with marble and/or has anyone tried a porcelain that looks like marble? Second, I haaate when shower curtains cling to you when you are wet but would rather not get a glass door for a combo in one bath – any thoughts? Maybe I have had bad curtains, maybe I get one of those European half-doors? And lastly, how do people feel about WCs in a master? I definitely want a washlet and need to make sure the architect knows that, I now realize. But I have never had the separate WC that he is keen on. I have been so happy to read everyone’s thoughts on the washlets!

  41. Hi Laurel!

    As always, wonderful and thorough post. I’m curious about tile, and if I’ve missed it in a separate post please tell me. We are gutting our master bathroom and all the tile stores are filled with 12×24 tiles. My tile guy discouraged them and said they tend to bow. I’m also concerned they may be another trend. I see you have tagged several bathrooms with subway tile. Is this a classic, and timeless option? Do you prefer a white subway, faux marble look, or real marble subway in the shower? We have a lot of floor space outside the shower and doing the 12×24 out there seems to be a good idea, but again I’m concerned with it being out of style in 5 years. Any reader comments are also welcome!

  42. When building a bathroom in a forever home, it’s important to think about aging. A stand alone shower with a low profile or curbless pan will serve as mobility changes and a shower seat is needed. I LOVE to soak in the tub but know there will come a time when I can’t get out.
    We installed a steam shower which requires floor to ceiling glass. I absolutely love it. When you close the door it’s totally silent and it feels so private and luxurious. I use the hand held and hose down the glass to keep it clean. Never an issue.
    My husband swears by his bidet. I can’t stand it. When my mother and I were in Italy we stayed in this sparkling clean guest house that used to be a convent and was still scrubbed within an inch of its life by the nuns. After hours of walking on cobblestone streets I would pull the chair up to the bidet, fill it with water and use it as a foot soak. Fabulous!

  43. Hi, Laurel, I’ve found (real) marble floors in bathrooms to be a slip and fall hazard (think of the lawsuit potential). Heart pine floors with adequate waterproofing beneath them and appropriately stained are very attractive, providing the correct humidity is maintained. Open showers are great if the floor slopes correctly and grab bars are installed, but in parts of the Mediterranean, all they did was allow water to escape into an adjoining room. Further, I do not need to deal with more humidity, even with an exhaust fan. Frameless glass enclosures are great for smaller bathroom shower spaces, but do require more maintenance to keep that pristine appearance.
    Although plumbers might enjoy exposed plumbing lines, I find them distracting and just another thing to wipe down/clean. Ditto for brass-too out of place except in period homes.
    The toilets with bidet add ons consume less floorspace.
    I agree with you about shower curtains. A disturbing trend has been for manufacturers to make curtains measuring only 72″ x 70″, which I’ll bypass-making a tasteful shower curtain with French seams is not rocket science…and you are correct about the length-no puddling and no flood heights, either.
    Your subscriber’s comment about larger wall tiles saving grout lines/cleaning time is spot on.
    Pedestal sinks are acceptable in small baths, if you have alternate storage elsewhere.
    So, a number of these trends will not be coming to my home.

  44. My husband and I love our washlets! I had one for years in my bathroom and couldn’t convince my territorial husband to use it, but we put them on all the toilets in our new house and now he’s as addicted as I am. I always thought I wanted a freestanding bidet but chose a washlet when we built because they’re much easier to use. No straddling or twisting around to use the faucets. I recommend the remote — you can always use a wall mount for it- but the side controls work fine too and they’re less expensive. Bells and whistles are great but you only need basics- heated water, self-cleaning nozzle, air dry. My husband loves the heated seat, I leave it off. I got my very skeptical sister to put one in her bathroom remodel and now she’s hooked too. Also nice not to worry about running out of toilet paper!

  45. Beautiful bathrooms and great information! Thank you. All I can think of when I see freestanding tubs is how difficult and time consuming it would be to clean FOUR sides of a tub AND floor underneath and all those hard-to-reach spots. Not something I would want!!

  46. I just turned 64 and I’m all for bathrooms that are senior citizen friendly: high toilet, walk-in shower with shower door, sink and mirror with good lighting, linen closet. Have you ever tried getting in and out of a bathtub when your joints no longer work? If the bathroom isn’t somewhat handicap friendly, then it’s a waste of money as far as I’m concerned.

  47. I always LOVE your thorough approach in theses posts. The images you selected were so appealing in their timeless and tasteful aesthetic. I walk into homes newly built and those in the mid-2000 era and wonder why I don’t really like them with all their “extra” design features (but not extra in a good way) and now I understand.

    Thank you for another lovely expose and lesson!

    P.S. I spotted Joe in the chair of your AirBnB!

  48. Can someone who has zellige tile share their experience cleaning it? When I look at it, I image a sponge or cloth getting snagged on all the rough edges. And how about the irregular spacing between – does it accumulate mold or soap buildup?

    And thank you, Laurel, for another in-depth post. Your links provide hours of additional informative reading.

  49. Morning, Laurel,
    Thanks for the great article. Regarding the kaeming k design corner shower photo above, do you think they used a rod attached to the ceiling? If so, I am wondering if they used magnets in the side hems to hold the two panels together at the corner when they are drawn for showering. Could they have alternately used a ceiling-mounted track for easy of drawing the curtain around or would that have been too contemporary? Thanks : D

  50. We just built a new home and after having a huge soaking tub in the last house that I used exactly zero times, I wanted nothing to do with a tub! We put in a curbless walk in shower with an open entry and absolutely love it. There is enough of a wall so water doesn’t go everywhere and when you step out, the calacatta gold porcelain tile is heated! It is a heavenly experience. Every day I feel like I am in a luxury hotel!

  51. Laurel,

    I have encaustic tile in my bathroom. It is the best thing to wake up to. NOT slippery, never joltingly cold. Always soft warm and beautiful.


  52. Just redid 2 smallish bathrooms in an older vacation condo, went floor to ceiling with ivory 12×24 format porcelain tile. The fewer grout seams the easier to keep clean. Pebble type tiles on the shower floor for safety, non-slip surface. I shudder when I see bathrooms with sheetrock walls, tile especially around the toilet seems easier to keep clean and more sanitary. I sprang for the Toto washlet toilet, worth the investment for a master bath in my opinion. I avoid pedestal sinks except where a small space pretty much precludes other options, we all have a variety of bathroom essentials and need a place to store them and a regular vanity provides more storage options. You can never go wrong with a white, ivory or pale beige bathroom-color can be added by your towel and accessory selection ( I adore Weezie brand towels ) Also consider painting the ceiling a beautiful color: pale shell pink or Benj Moore Antiguan Sky are 2 I’ve used quite successfully.

  53. We built an amazing bathroom in our firmer home and used restraint and it stayed timeless to the day we sold the house 15 years later. I put in a separate toilet room with a cool lighted niche above the toilet for sculpture. Also installed a Toto toilet with bidet seat and loved that thing. Never used the heated seat though as when I would sit down on it it felt like I peed my pants. My husband was not a fan and never used the features. One day I heard a scream like the kind from a horror flick. It was followed by a loud “no man wants a toilet with an electric eye!” He accidentally triggered the cleansing feature. 😂 We later upgraded to a wall control. Much better. Spend the bucks for a good one. Worth it.

  54. We do! We have one of those bidet seats. Or rather it’s an attachment that goes between the toilet and the seat. Ours has hot water functionality but no remote. The cold water hooks up to the water supply for the toilet but with ours, the hot water comes from the sink water supply, so a) the toilet needs to be not too far away and b) there’s this excessive extra tubing coiled on the floor that we still need to figure out how to manage. That’s a slight con. The other cons I’ve encountered are that it’s harder to clean around the hinge area where the seat is attached, and I also find the control knob kind of ugly. But the pros do outweigh that. It’s really nice to use once you get used to it and I wouldn’t want to go back to no bidet.

    Although, we did have a bit of an incident where our two year old went into the bathroom and turned it on full blast and the water shot up and out the bathroom door to hit the hallway ceiling and for a couple of seconds we couldn’t figure out why it was raining in the hallway. So caution if you have small kids…

  55. Great post, as usual! I have learned so much from you over the years (not to mention from your wonderful paint palettes and rolodex offerings). More importantly, I’ve learned what NOT to do!!

    I put a Toto Washlet 300e bidet seat in my master bath and I love it. The seat has a heater – which will be so nice on winter nights, and it has its own water inlet that can heat the water instantly. You can set the temps for the seat and water that you want using the remote. My remote also lets you save two different user settings.

    I replaced the toilet with a Toto Connect+ Drake II (1 gallon/flush) toilet and it is made to at least partially conceal the power and water connections. I still see some of the hose and the power cord, since they are located on the more exposed side of the toilet.

    I am partial to Toto toilets, they handle just about any challenge, if you get my drift, so I went ahead replaced the Kohler toilet in this bathroom. But you can just purchase the seat and add it to your current toilet too.

    I like the idea that you don’t need a separate bidet unit.

    Like Arlene said, be sure you have a power outlet next to the toilet. I had one installed on the lower wall next to the toilet – my electrician put in a GFCI outlet for safety and code compliance. ALSO – make sure you order the right “size” seat – elongated vs round – based on the toilet you’re planning to use.

  56. I have always used floor to ceiling shower curtains. When we redid our master bath we took out the glass doors. I love the look of the black frame and glass but the maintenance is more than I want to deal with. I have made shower curtains and I have used regular curtains with great results. It is something everyone asks about and several friends have asked me to make them for their bathrooms. It also covers up ugly tile. When my sons were living at home I made a long shower curtain with white terry cloth and added a red greek key pattern down the edge and bottom. I threw it in the wash when needed.

  57. Hi Laurel, you found some real stunners today. I’m wondering about your thoughts on the large “cleansing” room – you know, the shower and stand alone tub are separate but behind a glass wall within the actual bathroom (not on display in the bedroom lol). Most of those I’ve seen are gorgeous, but I’m. It sure I could do it? In my mind it’s a giant wet room with more area for mold & mildew. Am I nuts? Thanks for all you do…I enjoy my Sunday & Wednesday coffee more with a dose of Laurel.

  58. Hello Laurel, I may have mentioned this before but the best feature of many Asian bathrooms is that they have a drain in the main floor. If I were ever building or remodeling I would include this feature. They do not have to be in the middle of the floor–mine are unobtrusively right under the sinks. This way it doesn’t matter if water splashes around a bit, or if you do not want to use the shower curtain–it all just drains away.

  59. Thank you for your thoughts in bathrooms. My step mother had a guest bath room in a previous house That had no glass or curtain. It was a large area and I found it to be cold. The warm air in the shower dissipated quickly. In regards to the bidet seat in the toilet: they are wonderful. It takes time to get used to but does the job well.

    I work in a tile and flooring showroom. White subway of all sizes are the most popular. I do agree with you on no border in the shower/tub surround. My go to is if you want an accent, used the subway in a herringbone as the accent. Classic and not adding a color you will get sick of. And one more per peeve of mine: seeing the niche when you walk into the bathroom. Put the niche where you can’t see the grocery shelf of products when you walk in. And skip the mosaic tile in it: you won’t see it and it is a pain to clean little tile that is behind your shampoos!

    If you are remodeling a first floor bedroom bath, think about a curbless or low curb shower….. we are all aging or may have an aging parent. The shower walls need to have extra support behind them for future handrails. And take photos of it before the walls are closed up!

  60. Love our toilet seat bidet. Simple installation, you do need electricity next to the toilet. You’re right, the remote, instant warm water and headed seat are real luxuries, yet basic need. The little blo dryer is the best. Then wa-Laa, fresh as a daisy and away you go. It was purchased when my husband had two shoulder injuries. It was a life saver.

  61. Love this post. I just remodeled my guest bath and did go with white subway in the shower tub area and marble looking porcelain on the floor. Added white wainscot and painted the walls Navy! I love it so! I hung the curtain rod up high but not to the ceiling. I found a source on Etsy for a custom shower curtain made to my specified length. Wish I could send you my before and after as I think you would approve. By the way your open concept bathroom post had me laughing this morning

  62. Great post! I especially liked the designs that didn’t rely on subway tile, as I’m not a fan. But I couldn’t find the update on your Elfa cabinet installation – ? Is it just me?

  63. Amazing blog post! When I look at this Serena&Lily gorgeous bathroom I can not think about anything exept interior architecture there. How to make similar? Door and moldings and all this architectural details and any sources we could get it from? I have no ideas where to get such door or moldings or what material is that. MDF or solid wood, what kind of wood. Can we do exactly this interior detals? They make the room and then everything else is the perfect cherry on their cake. I’m annoying hehe. Teacher would you please teach me your dumb student?

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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